Halacha states that damages that generally incur through some form of negligence must be compensated by repaying the value of the damages. However, when it comes to theft, the thief is required to pay double the damages. Why?
Holiness is found within our souls but it is also found in everything around us and how we interact with it, notes the
. Honesty in business and the proper mindset with charity reveal the hidden sparks of holiness that already exists within the world, within the mundane dollars and cents. Who will live in Hashem's house, notes the Psalm chapter 15? He who deals honestly with his fellow, with a truthful heart, who respects others and fears God, doesn't charge interest or offer bribes. When one uses his material possessions honestly, one invests them with part of his own sanctity.
The Torah makes a distinction between a
(thief) and a
(robber). A thief comes surreptitiously in the night while a robber steals openly. Rabbi Rivlin points out, quoting the Gemara, the robber
is afraid of neither man nor God while the robber is more afraid of man while denying God's presence. For denigrating Hashem, he must pay an extra penalty. As the
notes, the armed robber is wicked, but doesn't cover it up. The thief on the other hand, pretends to be a
His hypocrisy is a form of
, "theft" of another's understanding and perception through deception. For this second theft, the thief pays the penalty in addition to the actual damages. The laws of damages are not just technicalities, but also a reflection of who we are.
There are seven levels of theft, but our sages note the most egregious is
, notes the Admor of Oshorov. This transgression includes, for example, allowing someone to believe we prepared so much on his behalf when we had actually prepared for another guest who hadn't yet arrived, or inviting someone for dinner when we already know he will be away that week. It makes others think we are "so nice" when in fact we are completely manipulative. This is deception of the highest order. It is egotistical to the point of denying that Hashem knows the truth.
Likewise, Rabbi Wolbe notes that the
were covered inside and out with pure gold. A
who carries the Torah within himself can be likened to the Ark. He too must be the same pure person inside and out, publicly and privately. The details of the mitzvot are important, but that is not enough. Rav Dessler reminds us that we must focus on the purpose, on self improvement, and on performing the mitzvoth with an enthusiasm that will help us grow spiritually.
Rabbi Revivo explains, certainly someone who caused damage to another must rectify and repay that damage. But here we have the case of someone who caused damage not through negligence, but through an avarice that willingly deprived another of his possession. The Torah mandates that when one wishes to harm another, he is punished by suffering the fate he would inflict on his fellow. Here the thief must certainly repay the initial damage, but since he wanted to take that money or valuable item from another, he must suffer the loss he would have inflicted had he not been caught. That is why he must pay double the value of what he stole.
The Torah writes that if the animal was found in the thief's possession, the thief must "
- pay life." In simple, the thief must pay double if the animal is still alive. Rabbi Rivlin takes a more homiletic approach. He posits that the possessions of a
are are dear to him as they represent part of his life. As the
writes, if we are upright, our
extends to our possessions. That's why Yaakov put himself in danger and went back alone to retrieve some small jars, writes
. You are to love Hashem not just with
, money or possessions, but with
, that wealth which has become part of you.
Human beings are acquisitive by nature, reminds us Rabbi Zaichik. If someone has 100, he wants 200. The thief also wants double and acts upon that desire. Therefore, he must repay double. The
quoting the Kli Yakar notes that the Hebrew letters that spell out the word for money
, are all spelled by doubling the letter of the sound.
followed by another
, followed by the "O" sound written with a
, and finished with a
. The very letters of money attest to the desire for double. But this desire for more can and should be channeled toward positive acquisitions such as the desire for more Torah knowledge, mitzvot, or a closer relationship with one's Rebbe.
A desire for having more materially is a jaded aspect of the enthusiasm and excitement of our youth. If we are to grow in Torah knowledge, we must retain some of that childish enthusiasm and make sure our children retain it as well, writes Rabbi Frand. One must never consider himself already a
, wise, but always a
, still a student of wisdom. It is for this
, this childlike quality that Chana prayed for in the son that would become the great Prophet Shmuel, adds Rabbi Zaichik. And it is this spirit that Moshe sought in the leader that would replace him, adds Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz.
If we find that we have a failing that is keeping us from a proper relationship with Hashem notes the Knesset Yechezkel, we should resolve to "pay double", to work doubly hard on that characteristic, to study twice as much if we are slack in our learning, and so with every mitzvah.